Gannon Students Present Proposal to Help Alleviate Downtown Food Desert

Posted: April 28, 2016

Students from Gannon University will present their business proposal for a possible fresh food hub on Tuesday, April 29 at 11 a.m. in Room 300 of the Center for Business Ingenuity at 900 State Street. The students have been working throughout the Spring 2016 semester in their Business Policy class on this service-learning project led by John Buchna, Chief Executive Officer of the Erie Downtown Partnership.

The goal of the project is to establish a fresh food hub at the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority's (EMTA) headquarters in Erie's downtown. The area surrounding the headquarters building has been identified as one of seven food deserts in the city. A food desert is an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.

The Gannon students have been offering support by providing a confidential business management consulting service to Buchna and the Erie Downtown Partnership. The project consists of 20 graduate and undergraduate students. The graduate project team has six members who have been responsible for completing benchmarking on other food hubs for the project. The undergraduate project teams have 14 students who are working on all other project components, including completing customer and vendor surveys, creating a business plan and developing marketing strategies.

The scope of the Erie Food Hub service-learning project includes a complete analysis and recommendations for establishing and operating the food hub. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the access to local agricultural fresh foods, strengthen the northwest Pennsylvania region food distribution and build a healthier downtown.